By Cliff Rold
Friday Night Fights is on hiatus. ShoBox is in big swing in its stead. The first U.S. televised title action of the year is on tap. Whether that’s worth getting excited about remains to be seen.
There is reason to be skeptical.
Sometimes, clashes between boxer-first types cane result in fascinating, high quality theater. Sugar Ray Leonard-Wilfred Benitez and Pernell Whitaker-Buddy McGirt come to mind. So does Timothy Bradley-Devon Alexander.
It’s hit or miss. Or maybe that’s not hit enough. We’ll see.
In the interim, take note of local listings. For the first time in a while, ESPN Classic has some fresh offerings. This week, classic Manny Pacquiao, Lennox Lewis, and Felix Trinidad will all hit air in rarely seen battles. Later in the month, David Tua’s battle with John Ruiz (a lasting classic) and first go with Hasim Rahman will hit air.
When ESPN Classic comes with fresh ‘old’ fare, that’s always a good thing.
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: #2 Rico Ramos vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux (Friday, Showtime, 11 PM EST/PST)
It’s not often a fighter with less than ten fights is favored to win a title, but not everyone who fits that description can also be called one of the great amateurs all time. Cuba’s Guillermo Rigondeaux (8-0, 6 KO) is a gem in terms of talent. Whether he is truly a pro remains to be seen. Against lesser fare, he’s been lethal. Against veteran Ricardo Cordoba in 2010, he started strong but seemed to blanch when caught. He fought only once in 2011, and now goes to a Rico Ramos (20-0, 11 KO) who came from well behind with a big knockout punch to wrest the WBA 122 lb. honors from Akifumi Shimoda. Now we’ll see what happens with a title to defend. Who leads in this one? If they struggle to answer the question, this could be a long night for viewers. If they surprise us…well, cool.
Pick Straw: Luis De La Rosa vs. Ivan Meneses (Friday, Telemundo, 11:35 PM EST/PST)
Action shouldn’t be hard to come by in this one. De La Rosa (18-1, 10 KO) is a comer at Strawweight (relative to how much a comer one can be in the class). Meneses (16-9-1, 9 KO) has lost four of his last six but managed an upset of 18-1-1 Juan Kantun in between. This should see leather fly for as long as it lasts.
Pick Debut: NBC Sports Cable Launches a Boxing Show (Saturday, NBC Sports, 9 PM EST)
A new, serious boxing show is always welcome on U.S. airwaves. This was supposed to be topped by Sergiy Lyakhovich vs. Eddie Chambers at Heavyweight but Chambers pulled out injured. There is no replacement as this goes to print. Still on the card and the highlight of the night anyways is a Welterweight war in waiting between Jesus Soto Karass (24-6-3, 16 KO) and Gabriel Rosado (18-5, 10 KO). It should be a scrap, and a good way to kick off boxing’s latest T.V. venture. Make sure to tune in. Good ratings mean more shows after all.
Back in seven.
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Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]